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After We Fell’s Hero Fiennes Tiffin on Meeting Harry Styles & If He Knows About Hardin

After playing a fanfiction version of Harry on screen, Hero reveals what it was like to meet him face-to-face.
After We Fell
Image: Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

For actors Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, the end of the After franchise is bittersweet. “It’s bitter because it’s sad to not be able to work with these people again and have to step out of the shoes of the character you’ve played across four movies,” Langford tells STYLECASTER. “But it’s sweet because I’m glad we were able to finish these movies for the fans. Hopefully we’ve made something that lasts and that they’re happy with.” 

Langford, 24, and Tiffin, 23, play Tessa Young and Hardin Scott respectively in the After franchise, which releases its third of four movies, After We Fell, on September 30, 2021. (The franchise’s last movie, After Ever Happy, finished filming in December 2020 and is set to be released in 2022.) The movies are based on Anna Todd’s books of the same title, which were adapted from a Harry Styles fanfiction she wrote on Wattpad in 2013. Though Tiffin’s character, Hardin, is inspired by Styles, he made the conscious effort not to base his performance on the One Direction member. “When we first started, I detached the Harry Styles aspect for myself,” he says. “Harry Styles and One Direction are the inspiration, but Anna has written this crazy, amazing world of life that no longer needs them as inspiration because the characters are so well-rounded. I didn’t need to draw any external inspiration from him by the time we got through the books to the script to Hardin’s character.” 

Though Tiffin didn’t relate the role to Styles, he did meet him once at the 2019 Met Gala, where Styles was a co-chair. While they didn’t talk about After, Tiffin believes that Styles gave him a “knowing look.” “I shook his hand, and there was a kind of thing,” Tiffin says. “We didn’t have the opportunity to talk because it was at the entrance, and it was quite full, but I feel like there was a little thing in the eyes of, like, we both knew. There was a knowing look. I haven’t spoken to him in detail about it. I hope that happens sometime.” 

Ahead, Langford and Tiffin talked to STYLECASTER about how they were cast in the After franchise, what they took from the set of the last movie, and whether fans can expect them in the upcoming After prequel and spinoff about teenage Hardin, and his and Tessa’s kids in the future. 

After We Fell
Image: Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

On how they were cast in After 

JL: What I remember from the audition is being really busy that week with a ton of other auditions and not thinking twice about it, whereas usually I’m very careful. It’s funny how stuff happens like that. Originally, I didn’t audition for Tessa. I auditioned for another character. You audition for a lot of roles in the same week. One day you’re a mermaid, the next day you’re doing a comedy. I don’t think [switching characters] was really a challenge. I was just flattered to be asked because when I read the script and the book, I felt a lot more connected to Tessa than the other character. I was excited to have the opportunity to do it because it felt right.”

HFT: “I was doing a bunch of auditions. The first After audition, I remember I had loads that week. I had four or five in the space of those three days. They were all getting jumbled up in my head. I was just smashing them out, almost thinking like, ‘I could be doing these better if I had more time.’ I did a callback, and there were a few people on the Zoom. I did one more, and they said, ‘We’ll fly you out for a chemistry read.’ They flew me out to L.A. I read with someone who wasn’t Jo, but in front of Anna and a bunch of producers. Then they informally offered me the role. I went back to London, and both my agents were there at the time. They sat me down and said, ‘Sorry, you didn’t get the role,’ and 10 seconds later, they were like, ‘I’m joking. You did. You fly out in two weeks.’ Then it was just super overwhelming and all the emotions in the world.”

On if they expected the After franchise to be as big as it is 

JL: “I didn’t know. I actually remember reading for a friend who auditioned for Tessa a month beforehand. I was like, ‘What’s this?’ She’s like, ‘Oh, it’s this romance. It’s based on these books, and these books are huge.’ I was like, ‘Oh.’ Then the more involved I got in the process, the more people told me and explained how large this fanbase was and how big these books were. It was something I definitely learned along the way.”

HFT: “I remember a friend saying to me, ‘Are you sure you’re ready for this?’ And I was like, ‘No. I’m not sure. But how do I know? And if I’m not, what am I going to do?’ That’s what happened. I remember Anna and [After director] Jenny [Gage] both saying, ‘Are you aware of how big this is going to be?’ I was almost swatting it away like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be fine. I’ll just take it one day at a time.’ Regardless of the warnings, I was still surprised and overwhelmed. It took a bit of time to adjust to, but now, I’m super happy, grateful and feel nothing but support from the fans and the situation I’m in.” 

On how their character is different in After We Fell versus the first two movies

JL: “She’s older in the third movie than the first two films. She’s learning about herself. She’s developed her agency, her sexuality, her identity. She’s coming into her own as a young woman. Even how she’s acting in this relationship is changing.”

HFT: “He’s been trying from the start to be better. Well, I guess more from the second half toward the end of the first one. But he’s definitely making an effort and he’s getting there. But the guy can’t catch a break. He is obviously so troubled and has his own things to deal with, but he’s not being presented with an easy path to walk to overcome them. The patience Tessa has with him is fundamental to their relationship and going where they want to go.”

On how Tessa’s dad affects her relationship with hardin

JL: “She hasn’t seen her father in 10 years, so him coming into her life is all of a sudden a lot to handle. She’s not in a position where she can handle it. She’s about to move to Seattle and start an internship. She has a lot going on. The way it’s affecting her, the emotional weight of that and all this stuff she’s internally struggling with adds pressure to the relationship. It’s another obstacle they have to deal with. They’re never given an easy run. There’s always something happening and getting in the way.”

After We Fell
Image: Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

On how Hardin treats Tessa 

JL: “He does [control her], sometimes. That’s in the books. There’s literally a line where it’s referential. That’s part of why people love this. It’s about their flaws as people and their flaws in the relationship. Not trusting. Not being able to forgive one another. Controlling one another. Even in ways she’s possessive toward him. She doesn’t trust he’s not doing this with this girl. They’re both flawed in their relationship. He has stuff he has to work on, and he does. That’s his arc and the relationship only gets better when he does that independently of her. You can’t change someone. He has to do that, and he does that for himself.” 

HFT: “It’s one of those things where none of it is malicious. it all comes from a good, honest, true place. Naturally, because of his imperfect attachment and behavior he’s learned from growing up, the trauma that he’s dealing with is very difficult for him.” 

On what attracts Tessa to Hardin

JL: “I think she doesn’t know at the start what attracts her. Neither one of them knows. They’re frustrated by the other. He’s very different from anyone she’s ever met before. There’s probably something to be said about that, and that may be why she’s drawn to him.”

HFT: “In the first one, we got asked a lot, ‘What is it about the bad boy nature that attracts people?’ I don’t know. I just know from people saying it that it does. It’s a timeless personality trait people will always find attractive. Strong, mysterious, confident. There’s something about him.”

On trying not to romanticize Hardin’s bad behavior

JL: “What we want to do with these movies is we hope you can learn from this relationship and you can identify what the bad behavior is and the good behavior, and it only gets better when the good behavior increases.”

HFT: “It’s a fine line to walk. We are making a romance, and it’s supposed to be entertaining. A lot of the nature of the relationship isn’t perfect, but it’s something we were always conscious of, trying not to glorify it too much. But ultimately, it’s a very difficult fine line to tread because you don’t want to glorify it and make anyone think that’s a good way to be, but at the same time, in the world of cinema, that is somewhat entertaining. It’s a balance we were conscious of and hopefully we balanced it.” 

On how similar the last movie, After Ever Happy, is to the ending in the books

JL: “They get a nice sense of closure in the fourth movie. I think it’s very faithful to the books. Obviously, you can’t fit everything in there in every scene. But they’ve had such a rough journey, it’s nice to see somewhat of a happy ending because everyone loves happy endings.”

HFT: “They get to the same place in the book. Obviously, we’re not going to be able to follow the exact same steps, unfortunately, because we don’t have seven books worth of time in four movies. If you’ve read the books, you can definitely expect to get to that place that they get to. But if you haven’t read the books, who knows? But I do love where they end up.” 

On what they took from the set of the last movie

JL: “I don’t think I took a souvenir. I have my script. I’m not sure I’ll ever get rid of my script. I don’ take chair backs or anything. I took clothes more just because I wanted them and I thought it was practical. Like anything that was left. I took rain boots, these jeans, this dress, a pair of socks.” 

HFT: “Loads of his clothes from the third and fourth, and his ring that he wears. We weren’t allowed to take other stuff in case we need it for reshoots and whatnot. I’m sure it’s in a vault somewhere, but eventually, I’ll get my hands on it. The favorite thing I actually took would be the ring. It feels like the most fundamental, iconic part. It’s been with him from the first one. The costume ever-so-slightly changed from one, two and three, but the ring was always the same. But if I could take anything, it would be his car. I would love to take his car. I would definitely get some air con and heating installed in there because it’s a bit outdated, but it’s a very nice ride.”

On if they would return for the After prequel or spinoff 

JL: “I would want to come back if it was important, and it made sense. I’m not a fan of overstaying your welcome. It can sometimes dampen a good thing if you’re creating something and it’s canon, and it doesn’t have a reason. I would be very, very, very happy to come back under the right circumstance and if it made sense. 

HFT: “I never say never, although I haven’t had any of those conversations yet. I genuinely can say  I’ve not been involved in any of those conversations. Having said that, it’s something that I would never say I’m never going to do. We’ll see!” 

After We Fell
Image: Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

On what it was like for most of the After franchise to come out during the pandemic

JL: “Hard because the fact that most of this franchise has happened during the pandemic means we haven’t had the same ability to have premieres and to have in person meet-and-greets to meet the fans. It’s crazy to have a fanbase this big and to not see them aside from on the first press tour. I’m holding out that next year for the fourth movie, restrictions will have eased and we’re able to have some human connection. Obviously I’m not very active online, so if I don’t get to do it that way, the way that I would want to is in person.” 

HFT: “First of all, we’re just so lucky to have the ability to do that. The world got turned upside down, and the fact that we could work, we were super lucky to even be able to do that. But also for the people who want the escapism of watching the films, it’s nice to give them something, despite the hardships of lockdown. A big thank you to the fans because without their support, we wouldn’t have been able to film another two.”

On what they’ve learned from the After franchise

JL: “I’ve learned a lot about what I should do and shouldn’t do. I’ve never been a lead in a movie before this. There are so many little things that no one teaches you and no one can teach on how sets work and all this intricate, behind-the-scenes stuff. Some of those lessons are invaluable. I’ve also grown with these movies. It’s taught me a lot, and I’m super grateful for that.”

HFT: “I struggle to pinpoint one thing because I’ve genuinely learned so much. Going from 19 years old to 20 years old to 23 years old, and having this fandom all through those years, they’re such pivotal, fundamental parts of your life anyway where you grow so much. After has taught me everything I’ve known since I was a teenager. All my life experiences of traveling the world and meeting so many fans. It really has changed my life.”

After We Fell hits select theaters on September 30, 2021. Stream the movie on demand on October 19, 2021.

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